Once formed, enemy images tend to resist change, and serve to perpetuate and intensify the conflict. Because the adversary has come to be viewed as a "diabolical enemy," the conflict is framed as a war between good and evil. Once the parties have framed the conflict in this way, their positions become more rigid. In some cases, zero-sum thinking develops as parties come to believe that they must either secure their own victory, or face defeat. New goals to punish or destroy the opponent arise, and in some cases more militant leadership comes into power.
"A complete emotional divorce is not possible," explains Minnesota's
Doherty. "You always carry that person around with you; a part of you
retains a 'we' identity." And if there are children, exes live on in the
new household as permanent extensions of their children, arriving to pick
up and deliver the kids, exerting parental needs and desires that have to
be accommodated, especially at holiday and vacation times. What's more,
the ex's parents are in the picture too, as the children's grandparents,
as is all of the ex's extended family, as aunts and uncles and cousins.